10 Natural Alternatives to Prescription Pain Medication
May 23, 2017
By Dave Thomas | March 14, 2017
In an era of overmedication from pain relievers and abuse of the same prescription medications, we might rightly ask, “What did our forefathers do about pain?” Were they “super strong” and are we contemporary humans just weak “snowflakes”? Actually, our forefathers had plenty of natural and non-addictive methods for minimizing pain.
This article will hopefully stimulate many readers to discuss what our parents and grandparents did to control pain.
10 Natural Alternatives to Opiate Prescriptions
1. EPSOM SALT BATHS
One of the most effective remedies for chronic pain is a warm soaking bath with a few cups of Epsom Salt. This high magnesium bath is relaxing and therapeutic. Magnesium is considered the “King” of minerals, making possible many physiological processes. Also, magnesium can relieve pain. The results of an occasional Epsom Salts bath can easily change the lives of many people suffering from heart rhythm problems and soothes tension in mineral depleted physical systems. Salts baths have been long known to be calming to a disquieted person. Twice a week salts baths can revitalize and refresh in ways many might think are miraculous.
This one will surprise you....Singing. “Singing in the shower”....”Singing in the rain”....sound familiar? Singing as well as laughing have an enormous therapeutic effect on the human psyche. And best of all, it doesn’t matter how you “sound” because the effect on your mind and spirit are not contingent on the quality of your voice. Learn the lyrics of some great songs. How about getting the lyrics to “Singing in the Rain” and commit to memory.... and then just let loose. And even better is to laugh at yourself while doing so. Good old belly laughing has been touted as health inducing and pain relieving.
3. WALK AND BREATHE DEEPLY
Walking and deep breathing are renowned for their pain-relieving benefits. Both walking and deep breathing increase your oxygen intake. Your body needs plenty of oxygen to thrive. During exercise your body releases endorphins, which improves your mood and reduces pain perception.
4. GIVE THANKS
While practicing the walking and deep breathing, undertake another therapeutic help... giving thanks. Being a creature who is thankful for life and the good things in life is therapeutic. Pain decreases when the mind is fixed on positives. There is a famous hymn named Count your Blessings.
"Count your blessings; name them one by one; count your many blessings, see what God has done....Count your blessings....name them one by one."
5. POWER OF THE SHOWER
There is something about hydrotherapy that is quite effective for pain. Warm/hot water is soothing and tranquilizing. It accelerates blood flow. If one alternated it a few times with cool/cold during the shower, the shock value has an additional value. Start with warm/hot showering and after a few minutes, turn the hot off and endure the cold water for 15 seconds, then turn the warm back on. Get warmed again over a few minutes and then repeat the cold. You will notice you can stand the cold much better than only a few minutes before. Repeat one more time, ending with cold if you can.
Use of DMSO is an often used substance by vets on injured animals. Here's a three part series on YouTube of DMSO and how the late Dr. Jacobs used DMSO to relieve pain. This series originally aired on 60 Minutes.
DMSO is applied topically for pain relief. It is a natural anti-inflammatory. While some find that it brings relief right away, others find it takes time for its full effect to be noticed. When you use DMSO you will often taste a garlicky taste in your mouth and smell as if you have used garlic.
For topical use, do not use a product that contains more than 70% DMSO. Higher concentrations can irritate the skin.
The use of turmeric is also quite helpful in reducing pain. Commonly used around the world as a flavoring, turmeric can also be taken in capsule form. A teaspoon in the pot of soup adds a golden sheen and exotic flavor. Taking a turmeric supplement or adding it generously to your food will give you the benefit of a natural anti-inflammatory. Pain is often caused by inflammation. Many pain medications reduce inflammation. Turmeric accomplishes the same without dangerous side effects. (The most common side effect of turmeric is constipation. For that reason, it should always be taken with plenty of water.)
Typical doses of turmeric range from 1/4 teaspoon (about 1 capsule worth) to 1 teaspoon (about 4 capsules worth) taken 1-3 times a day. You may need to experiment around with your dosages to find what works best for you.
A “healing clay” can be used topically for irritation, pain and inflammation. Healing clays, like bentonite clay, can be purchased in health food stores or online.
Take the clay powder and add enough purified water to make a paste. Use the paste topically on injuries or bites Let the clay paste dry fully. (This will take about an hour.) Wash off the remaining clay and later repeat the application. The clay not only draws out the poison but it soothes by reducing inflammation and pain. Clay is often used on the face as a mask to cleanse the skin of impurities and relieve painful conditions like acne. Charcoal can also be used to do the same kind of cleansing, though it tends to be messier.
Like many other natural remedies, clay works to reduce inflammation in addition to its infection drawing properties.
For pain in the neck or back, use pressure point application to relieve the pain. To do this apply the thumb on the sore areas and apply pressure for fifteen or twenty seconds. Repeat a minute or two later. If you have a family member who can apply pressure to painful areas in your neck or back for you, all the better. Castor oil can be used as a massage oil during acupressure. Castor oil also helps to reduce pain and inflammation. If you do use castor oil, wear old clothes; it can leave a greasy stain.
Don’t overlook good old aspirin. Try that before going to a super strong agent that can cause dependence. Aspirin has been around a long time and is inexpensive. If you take blood thinning medications, ask your doctor before taking aspirin as it also thins the blood. For this reason, aspirin should not be used for 2-3 weeks prior to surgery.
Natural remedies for pain relief are safe, inexpensive and non-addictive. Using a combination of the above remedies may not only relieve your pain but bring healing to your body and keep you from more drastic solutions like risky surgery and/or dangerous and addictive pain medications.
What are your favorite pain relievers? Send us your favorites and help us expand the list of natural pain relievers!
About the Author
Dave Thomas, a popular contributor on Earth Clinic since 2012, is a lawyer from South Carolina who has studied in the area of nutrition as an avocation for 40 years. Dave has served in the State Legislature for many years and in local office too.